Dan Makaveli

Media Savvy Training Solutions

Dan Makaveli and his business partner Mark McKenna established Media Savvy Training Solutions in 2010. Both graduates of the University of Sunderland, Dan and Mark were continuing to study programme modules in areas such as animation while working to start up their business.

Media Savvy promotes education, creativity and employability through digital arts and media. They deliver accredited workshops in areas such as photography and digital imaging, visual effects and computer games development. More recently, Dan and Mark have created new courses to help learners develop functional skills whilst engaging in creative practices. These are accredited by the Open College Network.

Benefit claimant rates among 18-24 year olds in the North East of England are among the highest in the Country. Media Savvy's approach is to engage young people through arts and media, and in doing so, the Company works with schools and groups that other providers find 'hard to reach'. In a recent pilot, the Company worked with a group of four offenders. Over a period of five weeks, the group took part in 10 hours of training, and all participants completed the course, a retention rate that astounded the project's commissioners. A second similar project is planned soon.

"Ultimately the aim of our work is to improve the lives and opportunities that our learners have." - Dan Makaveli

Dan received a Catalyst (Start Up) Award through UnLtd and HEFCE during Phase 1, to help purchase capital equipment, such as laptops, that were needed to get the business going. Since then, the Company has incorporated as a Community Interest Company and employs Dan and Mark full-time.

The University of Sunderland has helped to incubate the Business, offering office space at an affordable rent, alongside access to business support. Being based in the University's Media Centre also helps to give credibility with clients. The relationship with the University has potential to develop further, with an opportunity arising to work in partnership to deliver participatory arts courses funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Media Savvy won two major regional business awards in 2011, and started 2012 by winning a Lloyds TSB Enterprise Award for Best New Start Up in Yorkshire and the North East. Dan's current priority is to get the new employability courses up and running, and he's exploring partnerships to take this forward in the Company's home city of Sunderland. In the longer term, Dan and Mark plan to take Media Savvy's award winning approach to other parts of the Country.

In early 2013, Dan was funded with a Build It Award from the UnLtd/HEFCE Scheme, which is going to be used to deliver three pilots of a new qualification to school children aged 11-16. This Pilot involves three groups of pupils from local schools taking part in a week long intensive programme, during their summer holidays. At the end of the week, those taking part will gain a Trinity College Arts Award qualification. The UnLtd funding was key to starting this pilot, as other funding sources would not have enabled Dan and his colleagues to deliver training to this age group. If the Pilot Programme is successful, Dan hopes to attract future funding directly from schools in the area, and further afield.